Comedian Artie Lange used to love sharing stories of his time on the set of the film Dirty Work with co-star Don Rickles.
The legendary insult comic tore into both Lange and director Bob Saget, and even Rickles’ improv jokes that didn’t make the final cut left Lange howling.
Rickles was as rough as they come, and he still is. He’s just not mean-spirited, and even the targets of his insults can’t help but laugh along.
Compare that to how modern comics like Jim Carrey, Bill Maher and Ricky Gervais apply their brand of humor. They aren’t mocking folks, they’re attacking them, plain and simple, using the stand-up arena, film and now Twitter to savage their foes.
Maher’s anti-Catholic, anti-GOP tirades on Twitter and his HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher are legion, meant not to illuminate or instruct but to leave a mark.
Carrey’s recent attacks on Second Amendment supporters have been particularly cruel, going so far as to devote an entire music video to savaging the late Charlton Heston.
No subjects should be off limits for comedians, but the difference between Rickles’ brand of insults and how Carrey and company operate is profound.